What does “multi-generational worship” mean to you?
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(image from TowardWonder.Com, Philosophy of Multi-Generational Worship by Ross Parsley)
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17 comments on “What Does “Multi-Generational Worship” Mean to You?”
In a simplistic form I would say that it means worship that spans all generations. I am pretty sure the idea is that the worship is feeding people from all generations. The older generations typically love the hymns and the younger love some good ol’ rock-n-roll. Finding the healthy balance where you are feeding the older and the younger generations (and all the ones in between) without leaving anyone behind. Kind of tricky but I know it can be done.
Anyway, just my brief thoughts. Looking forward to this discussion!
Wow this is a huge question. I can answer it 2 ways.
Here’s the first. What is worship if it’s not multi-generational? Was worship ever meant to be for just a particular group of people? Did Jesus say go and make disciples of the people most like you? I believe we are called to lead all God’s people into worship. With that said, I believe in today’s humanistic society it’s impossible. Everyone wants and believes they have to the right to have it “their way”. That’s the Burger King slogan. : )
Here’s my second. It’s a balance between the prophetic and the pastoral. THE PROPHETIC—THE DESIRE TO BREAK NEW GROUND. THE PASTORAL—THE DESIRE TO TAKE PEOPLE WITH YOU. You can look at styles and music types and categorize the people by that, or you can look at your people in your church and lead them where they are to a new place a new intimacy with Christ. I think we get caught up in styles and not enough in people.
just some of my thoughts.
(posted by my friend, Mark Evans, over on FaceBook – copying here for the sake of complete conversation)
“Multi-generational worship: a white kid who listens to Aero-Smith, a black kid who likes Nelly, a spanish kid who likes Santanna, a redneck who likes Hank Williams Jr., an old white man who likes Jimmy Swaggart, a middle-aged woman who can’t live without Celine, an 11th grader who knows every word to “Soldier Boy”, and finally and overweight preacher who uses an inhaler and loves bluegrass….who all come together on Sunday to play “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin!….go figure?”
multi-generational worship MUSIC is worship that is led by and engaged in by people of all ages. Specifically within the context of a “church” gathering.
multi-generational WORSHIP is a whole life worship that is engaged in and lived out day in and day out by people of all ages. Specifically within the context of LIFE.
Have you ever heard that song I think it is called “I need you” but it says in it “I need you to survive”? It is on the movie The Gospel soundtrack. I think that best describes it. We are the body, each a different part of the body, but as each part of the physical body needs each other, we need each other to survive.
I think multigenerational worship means being authentic too.
Psalm 78 has much to speak about this concept of generation worship.
“4 We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did. 5 For he issued his decree to Jacob; he gave his law to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, 6 so the next generation might know them â€“ even the children not yet born â€“ that they in turn might teach their children. 7 So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. 8 Then they will not be like their ancestors â€“ stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.”
I gather the following teaching points from this Scripture.
1. Our initial idea of worship, not just musical, is handed down to us from others.
2. Our idea of worship begins to transform and we more deeply understand who God has revealed himself to be in His Word.
3. There comes a point where each generation must choose to set their hope anew on God. Their choice is directly influenced by what has been handed down to them and their personal pursuit after God.
4. What we know about worship, including music/prayer/Scripture/etc., changes the way we do life.
5. The way we worship directly influences the next generation (thus starting the cycle again.
These thoughts are not unique. We see it in the nation of Israel in the Old Testament and in our own lives an churches today. I pray that we see what tremendous responsibility we have to set our hope anew on God and teaching coming generations to do the same. May God give you more and more grace and peace as you continue to grow in the knowledge of Jesus our Savior.
A couple of typos to fix:
first line: should be “generationAL worship”
number 1 should read: “AS we more deeply understand…”
Sorry. I typed quick and didn’t proof read.
A huge topic our church is currently wrestling with. So far we’ve narrowed it down to those that like loud drums and those that don’t like loud drums. If we make it somewhere in the middle it all of a sudden become ‘multi-generational’!
It is the coming back to the center between the two ditches. The ditches being, 1. A flavor of worship that is hung onto, cherished, and unchanged for so long that is no longer relevant to the current generation and #2 A worship that is so futuristic or catering to a fleshly stylistic desire of a new generation that the seasoned worshipers are left in a cloud of “oh my gosh, this is so distracting that I can not even worship. It is where both generations come and simply express their heart to God in a raw sense not worrying about trying to salvage nostalgia, or trying to make someone else understand you. It is where style and show is less and heart expression is more.
Mutli-generational worship is simple to define, difficult to accomplish. It is when a group of different people (not just age ranges) worship God/Jesus at the same time while gathered together. What we get hung up on is how we create an event that is all inclusive. The issue with this is that we are then trying to please everyone at the same time! I think that to help create a multi-gen worship time, we need to get away from the belief that the song time is purely the “worship” portion of the service. The entire service is worship, even the greet and the announcements are worship. If we believe this and start to program the mini-events in the service as being worship. It helps to shift our views away from serving the congregants and onto serving God. Once we can start to understand that core issue and teach our congregations what the true meaning of worship is, then the whole multi-gen issue might start to disappear. People will be less concerned that the musical portion isn’t their “style” and more concerned with how they can worship God/Jesus in the service. There will be people who disagree with me and who disagree with that philosophy. I might counter that if people are more concerned with the “style” of the music vs. if people are actually engaging and encounting God during worshiping, then they might have their priorities set. I’m not trying to stir up dissent, but hey, you asked…
I think there are certain songs which captivate people across a wide age spectrum and provide them with a vehicle to express their praise. Years ago it was “Majesty;” and then it was “Shout to the Lord;” and more recently, “How Great is Our God.” (All three of which can be done in A-major and medley-ed together!)
But Fred, are you talking about the “songs” or the “sets?”
A setlist may contain an eclectic variety of selections which have been chosen to provide a broad demographic with connection at different points. A potpourri of worship moments and experiences. If that’s the intention, then I prefer the Robert Weber term, “blended worship.”
Sorry so late to the debate. In attempting to lead my congregation in multi-generational worship, I think the focus needs always to be pointed to Christ and not our personal desires. I also point out the relatively short span of history that our arguing covers. The “traditional” worship style that some desire only dates back to the 1950s when “How Great Thou Art” was a new contemporary worship/gospel song. Or at best our worship traditions only date back to the last 300-400 years, when the hymns of Isaac Watts were new and controversial.
In light of the greater scope of 2000 years of Christian worship, all of our worship can be seen as variations within an overall contemporary expression. It’s more like “Early Contemporary” vs. “Current Contemporary.” While I know that does little to build any bridges, I think it will help to keep our debate in better perspective to the church universal in all ages and cultures.
That being said, I would also point out that the history of church music from the beginning has been heavy-laden with controversy. Everything music-related that is held dear in any church today, even in the most liturgical churches, was once considered new, contemporary, and controversial. Worship leaders/church musicians have always pushed the envelope in leading the church in their expression of worship, and for that, we should all be thankful. For without that loving prodding forward, we’d all be stuck in Gregorian Chant. Try imagining the latest lyrics by Chris Tomlin, Dennis Jernigan, or Steve Fee in Gregorian Chant, and you’ll have enough material for countless sleepless nights.
Our Church is trying to start a blended service and want to include everyone. Is that possible without causes people to have a complete melt down? I live what Fred said about all the people coming together to sing How great is our GOD!!!